MINNEAPOLIS – JBS USA, a unit of São Paulo-based JBS S.A., confirmed on Feb. 2 that it approved a $52.5 million settlement in a lawsuit in which the company was accused of conspiring to fix beef prices.

The so called “ice breaker” agreement was filed in the US District Court of Minnesota and will need to be approved by Chief Judge John R. Tunheim.

“While JBS does not admit liability for the claims alleged as part of this case, it believes this decision is in the best interest of the company,” said a JBS spokesperson. “JBS will continue to vigorously defend its interests against the other classes.”

Cargill Inc., National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson Foods Inc. were also named in the case.

The original complaint alleges that the processors conspired to inflate domestic beef prices paid by direct purchasers since 2015. The complaint said those actions reduced slaughter volumes and created a deficit that smaller companies could not make up. 

Congress and the US Department of Justice have been investigating US beef markets over the last two years. 

In November 2021, JBS USA also agreed to a $12.75 million settlement in a pork price-fixing case between the company and Commercial and Institutional Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs (CIIPS).